Stewart-Phillips: Government employees trying to access rental assistance

Assistant Secretary Nadine Stewart-Phillips. PHOTO COURTESY THA -
Assistant Secretary Nadine Stewart-Phillips. PHOTO COURTESY THA -

Government employees who were paid their full salaries during the stay-at-home restrictions to prevent the spread of covid19, are among those who were denied assistance in meeting their rental payments.

This was revealed on Wednesday by Assistant Secretary, Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development Nadine Stewart-Phillips during the post-executive council news conference at the Victor E Bruce Financial Complex in Scarborough.

She provided an update on the various social relief initiatives that were offered to citizens who were affected by the covid19 restrictions.

Stewart-Phillips said applicants who sought assistance for commercial spaces, as well as non-nationals, were also denied rental assistance.

She said of the 659 applications that were received to date, 25 were denied while 335 have already been processed and paid.

Stewart-Phillips added, 81 applications are being verified and should be returned at the end of this week.

She revealed, some 138 applications did not have supporting documents.

Stewart-Phillips urged landlords to submit their outstanding documents.

“We are urging landlords and even clients, if you were contacted and asked to submit your outstanding documents please submit.

“Some applicants do not even have so much as a rental agreement, and if there are outstanding documents then we just cannot process your application. Please help us to help you.”

She said the applications can be dropped off at the division.

Stewart-Phillips acknowledged the process has been slow, but steps had to be taken to ensure accountability.

“The THA took a decision that we would pay the rental assistance for persons or applicants from Tobago. Again, we acknowledge that this process has been very long.

“But, just for the sake of clarity, this is public funds and even though it is grant funding, we must ensure, and the public servants are going to ensure, that all the necessary processes are followed.”

She said there was also an audit process “so we have to ensure that all our documents are lined up and everything that we do, the process must be able to stand scrutiny. “I agree that we may not have been working fast enough, but we must take all those aspects into consideration.” Regarding the salary relief grants, which are being paid through the National Insurance Board, Stewart-Phillips said the division has received 1,727 applications through TTPost.

Of those, she said 1,566 qualified applicants have already received first and second tranche payments.

She said some applications may have been submitted electronically, but NIS was unable to provide a figure because all of the applications were lumped.

Acknowledging many people still have not received the salary relief grants or income support, Stewart-Phillips said the division has decided to track the names of the applicants.

“So, once you submit the names to us, we are going to reach out to NIS with the list of names or the ministry (Social Development and Family Services) and ask them to provide an update.”

She said the names can be submitted to


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